Every family has secrets, but the elite Temple family of Savannah has more than most. To maintain their influence, they've also been documenting the indiscretions of other prestigious southern families, dating as far back as the Civil War. When someone begins leaking these tantalizing tidbits to the newspaper, the entire city of Savannah, Georgia is rocking with secrets.
The current keeper of the secrets and matriarch of the Temple clan is Iris, a woman of unpredictable gastrointestinal illnesses and an extra streak of meanness that even the ghosts in the Temple mansion avoid. When Iris unexpectedly dies, the consequences are far flung and significant, not only to her family--who get in line to inherit the historic family mansion--but to Savannah itself.
At the heart of the story is Old Sally, an expert in Gullah folk magic, who some suspect cast a voodoo curse on Iris. At 100 years of age, Old Sally keeps a wise eye over the whole boisterous business of secrets and the settling of Iris's estate.
This was not my first Susan Gabriel novel. A few years ago I read and really enjoyed THE SECRET SENSE OF WILDFLOWER, a truly original southern story. Though I did enjoy TEMPLE SECRETS and getting to know the Temple family members, I wasn't swept away like I'd hoped I would be. I loved the setting of Savannah, the implication of spirits hanging around the old historic Temple home and the deep family history. Gabriel did a great job of making you feel as if you were stepping into the past when entering the home. I did find the characters genuine and most of them likable. Iris Temple was undoubtedly someone you wouldn't want to cross, therefore most of the other characters tip-toed around her out of fear.
Though there was a lot of talk about the Book of Secrets, I found myself wondering if any of those secrets would be revealed and how they would affect the story. I was expecting big, earth-shattering secrets but very few ever materialized like I imagined they would. Unfortunately for me, the story never developed into the ghostly secret keeper that I wanted it to.
The narration was also performed by Susan Gabriel and though she did a great job reading the story, I would have liked to have heard more of a variety of inflections with the characters.
The bottom line for me is that I liked the charcters and setting but wish the story would have developed further. It's not a long book and I felt that just when it was getting started, it had ended and left me wanting more.
TEMPLE SECRETS (Unabridged Audio Version)
Author: Susan Gabriel
Publisher: Wild Lily Arts
Published: April 7, 2015
Length: 9 hrs 18 mins
Source: Susan Gabriel, Author